Published with the permission of the author, Darrell Burchfield.
As a lifelong competitor and coach in the sport of wrestling, I have developed my unique perspective of life and collected a few valuable lessons that seem to apply to all of us in the business-world or sports-world equally. I wish I could take credit for all of these lessons but for the most part, I’m just a simple collector, practitioner and an occasional messenger to those students that I coach or people I interact with in my professional life.
Before I get started I would like to offer a perspective for those of you that are young or are raising soon to be young adults of your own. It is my belief that the first 25 years of someone’s life will determine for the most part how they will live their next 50 years. My observation is that the high school GPA (though important) does not translate to success in the real world, nor does simply choosing to go onto higher education. What I have determined is that those few people that keep a laser focus on the 5-7 years immediately following high school seem to have the highest levels of success in life. The ones that focus on their dreams and then truly set about developing the discipline, work ethic and pursuing whatever education is required to help them along the way, will more often than not live a much easier and more productive life than those that don’t.
That said the following simple lessons I take from my time wrestling and coaching apply equally to successes in sports or in business:
Lesson one: Whatever you do in life start with a goal in mind. Sounds simple and it is simple, but to me, it is one of life’s most important lessons. After all, this is where “success” in your terms is defined. This is where you define what you want to accomplish from the daily projects and tasks to career aspirations and even bucket list items. You need to know what you want to accomplish, and why you need to accomplish it. Don’t overlook the why as that is what will drive your motivation whenever life gets tough.
Lesson two: There are no failures only results. In wrestling like life, the only thing you deserve is what you earn. If you do not like the results you get then change. Change your work habits, refine or improve the techniques you utilize or adjust your strategy. Keep making adjustments until you get it right. We need to develop the mindset that we either succeed or we learn! We only fail if we quit trying!
Lesson three: Things happen for a reason and you need to take responsibility. Whether we like it or not, most of us are where we are in life today due to our own actions or inactions. Don’t feel sorry for yourself too much, or revel in your success for too long. Step up, take responsibility and find the lesson in whatever happens that can serve you as motivation towards your long term goals and propel you forward in life. We all have great excuses if we fall on hard times, but in the end they are just excuses. The quicker we put them to the side and focus on the real lessons that can help us improve our situation the better we will be. If nothing else please remember: Most of life’s best lessons come from some of the most painful moments and being responsible (empowered) vs. being a victim is almost always a choice.
Lesson four: Take inventory and make sure you understand the resources you have working for you. Make sure you understand your God given talents and how to continue developing and using them. Also, people around us are often our greatest asset. Coaches, managers, team member, peers, family and even competitors can be awesome resources. We need to surround ourselves with people that have similar lofty interests and then work to continue building these relationships as we pursue our dreams.
Lesson five: Simple…hard work is play! Life (like wrestling) can be very tough, often grinding, and occasionally cruel. We all need to find a way to recharge our batteries and enjoy the ride or we will struggle to remain motivated. Do you know anyone that is extremely successful who does not find some way to enjoy what they do?
Lesson six: No long term success without commitment. Besides setting goals, this is perhaps the most powerful lesson for success. A strong enough commitment combined with our motivating reasons to succeed (the “why” from lesson one above) can be the juice that gets us through even our darkest days. Those people and organizations that are truly committed, sustain and build upon small successes day after day, month after month, and year after year usually attain levels of success only dreamed of by those not willing to commit on a long-term basis.
Thanks for taking the time to read my attempt at writing, I hope you find this helpful/interesting. Darrell Burchfield